Far-right ‘loner’ guilty of Finsbury Park terror attack
A jury of eight women and four men took one hour to convict father-of-four Darren Osborne.
An unemployed “loner” intent on spilling as much blood as possible ploughed a hire van into a group of Muslims after becoming radicalised by far-right material within just a few weeks.
Darren Osborne, 48, deliberately mowed down worshippers outside two mosques in Finsbury Park, north London, shortly after 12.15am on June 19 last year, killing Makram Ali, 51, and injuring 12 others.
A jury of eight women and four men took one hour to convict the father-of-four, who was seen smiling and blowing a kiss to angry bystanders in the moments after the terror attack, of murder and attempted murder.
Osborne, who had denied both charges, nodded and looked around the courtroom as the verdicts were delivered at Woolwich Crown Court on Thursday.
Part way through his trial the father of four, from Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff, suddenly denied he had been driving the van at the moment of impact, an 11th hour defence the prosecution dismissed as being conjured “out of thin air”.
The attacker said he had no idea Dave – one of his two made-up accomplices – intended to smash into a group of pedestrians, and believed they were on their way to a pub to meet a third co-conspirator, Terry.
But jurors agreed with prosecutors who dubbed his increasingly improbable version of events a “total fabrication” and “frankly absurd”.
During the nine-day trial Osborne told the court he had wanted to kill senior Labour figures including leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
He had also plotted to murder Rochdale Labour councillor Aftab Hussain, who he said had backed a member of the grooming gangs, but called it off because he wanted “more casualties”.
The attacker admitted he had initially hoped to “plough through” as many people as possible at the pro-Palestinian Al Quds march in central London, previously attended by Mr Corbyn.
But after driving a hire van from Cardiff to London on June 18, road closures thwarted Osborne’s plan.
Instead he travelled across London in hunt of a mosque, eventually ending up in Finsbury Park in Mr Corbyn’s constituency at around midnight.
CCTV footage shows the van circling roads close to the Muslim Welfare House and Finsbury Park mosque, before turning hard left into a crowded pavement at the entrance of Whadcoat Street at 12.16am.
Two minutes earlier Mr Ali had collapsed on the floor after attending evening prayers, just 100 yards from his front door, prompting bystanders to rush to his aid.
Witnesses said he had been conscious and had wanted to go home in the moments before being struck by the van, which killed him almost instantly. Two others were seriously injured.
A note written by Osborne – which complained about terrorism, the Rotherham child sex scandal, and branded Mr Corbyn a “terrorist sympathiser” – was found in the cab of the van.
Osborne, a “total loner”, had become obsessed with Muslims after watching BBC drama Three Girls in May last year and was angered by what he deemed as inaction following a string of UK terror attacks, his estranged partner Sarah Andrews said.
Police believe these feelings were further fuelled by far-right material, with devices found at Osborne’s family home revealing multiple searches for English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and Britain First’s Jayda Fransen.
Within a month Osborne, who had never previously expressed racist tendencies, had become radicalised and decided to take matters into his own hands.
Despite Osborne’s assertion that Dave had been driving and he had been changing his trousers in the passenger seat footwell at the time, only one figure was seen leaving the vehicle after the collision.
A “sweaty” Osborne was wrestled to the ground after stumbling out, but as a crowd of people attempted to throw punches at him, Imam Mohammed Mahmoud urged them to back off.
“He posed no harm to anybody. He was immobilised,” he told the trial.
“He wasn’t a threat and therefore he should answer for his crime in a court such as this, which he is doing now, and not in a court in the streets.”
Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police counter terrorism Command, said: “Osborne’s evil and cowardly actions meant a family has tragically lost a husband, father and grandfather.
“There were also 12 others, who, having gone to Mr Ali’s aid, sustained various injuries from the collision. Some of those injured have still not fully recovered and could suffer from health issues for the rest of their lives.”
He added: “Only he will know, but if Osborne’s aim was to create divisions and hate between communities, then from what I have seen, he has failed in that respect.
“The way that the local community in Finsbury Park – of all faiths and backgrounds – came together was astounding and this reaction was the same across London and the UK.”
The Crown Prosecution Service said the offence was considered to be terrorism because it was in order to advance a political purpose.
Spokeswoman Sue Hemming said: “Darren Osborne planned and carried out this attack because of his hatred of Muslims.
“He later invented an unconvincing story to counter the overwhelming weight of evidence but the jury has convicted him.
“We have been clear throughout that this was a terrorist attack, and he must now face the consequences of his actions.”
Prosecutors will ask the court to take into account the fact this was a terrorism offence when Osborne is sentenced on Friday.